This article examines how and why India, the world's largest democracy, remains sceptical about the idea of promoting its own political order abroad. It first lays down the historical background of India's long abstinence from promoting democracy and describes the country's more recent shift in foreign policies towards greater (though still cautious and selective) support for international democracy promotion. On a conceptual level and as a thought experiment, the article then compares in what ways three prominent schools of thought in international relations (neo-realism, neo-institutionalist liberalism, and social constructivism) are capable of contributing to an explanation of Indian reticence in democracy promotion. While they emphasize different aspects and dimensions of India's hesitance to engage in democracy promotion, all three contribute analytically to such an explanation. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.